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UHPOG, Week 8: It’s sharing day for Geno Smith and Gabe Jackson

Geno, Gabe dominated

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks
Biggest play of the game?
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

When it’s too hard to choose, don’t. Choose, that is. Share.

Unheralded for years and years since moving on from the Jets starting job, Geno Smith had the game of his Seahawks life against the Jaguars. Gabe Jackson, a guard who rarely gets plaudits but is often saddled with offensive-line-related blame, was a big reason why.

Both are co-UHPOGs* this week, because the bye week is coming, and because there are no rules in blogging, at least outside of the Field Gulls comment section. That’s a moderating joke. The funniest kind of joke.

*UnHeralded Player Of the Game

Defensively, you’d like to find a hidden star among the 19 men who helped hold Jacksonville to one garbage time touchdown. Maybe another day, now that the Seahawks defense is... kinda good? Or at least average.

But since we’re on offense for the week, how about a fun fact, that maybe you didn’t catch if you were away from the television broadcast: Smith is now the NFL quarterback with the most consecutive completions to start a game in 2021, with 14. He passed Aaron Rodgers, who was only capable of 12, the poor soul. Rodgers may be sick; Smith was SICK.

With that nonsense out of the way, I want to highlight the three plays we all know are coming, but also make two over-arching Smithian points.

A) He was poised, unlike in previous weeks

Geno took a hit on the first very big play of the game, a 27-yard completion to Tyler Lockett that was originally ruled a touchdown. He kept his cool on fourth down to sneak the ball across the goal line at the drive’s conclusion.

He took no delays of game against the Jaguars and caused no emergency timeouts from the sideline, after accounting for two of those against the Saints in Week 7.

He waited for Lockett to break free on multiple occasions, including this one on the second drive right as the protection first started to break down behind him:

B) He targeted his playmakers, unlike in previous weeks

In Week 7, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett combined for 8 targets, or one less than Gerald Everett and Freddy Swain combined. No offense to the latter two, but they aren’t the former two.

In Week 8, Metcalf and Lockett won the target competition 18-1 over Swain and Everett. Problem fixed, I’d say. And look, any way you can get the ball to number 16 is good.

Add in the first-half accuracy mentioned earlier (this game was won in the first half) and it’s easy to see why Smith is deserving of even more praise than he may have received between Sunday and now. Plus it’s likely his last chance.

It takes a lot of precision to put this ball to DK right where it needs to be. This is a Mahomes-Rodgers-Prescott level throw. Smith isn’t on their level, not close. Except this once. Outside shoulder, at the pylon, exactly where the defender is shielded, exactly on time, not a fraction of a second early or late. Smith trusted his WR to be in the right place, and it worked out.

(It’s maddening to think that if not for the general presence of T.J. Watt in Pittsburgh, or the referees’ lack of whistle-blowing late in the Saints game, that Smith could’ve easily guided the Seahawks to 2-1 in Russell Wilson’s absence, lifting them to 4-4 at the bye, which, incidentally, would be enough for the NFC’s final wild-card spot. So don’t think about it, eh?)

Gotta get the rushing TD in here for everyone who had the guts to start Smith in their fantasy football matchup.

Fourth-down play, too, in case you’re still convinced Pete Carroll is afraid of them.

Over the years, the Seattle offensive line has taken its share of criticism. Some of it falls on their dozens of shoulders (so many OL, so many shoulders) and some of it falls on a man who has made a habit of holding the ball until the very last possible millisecond while he hunts for the elusive explosive.

So Gabe Jackson became a priority of Carroll’s and John Schneider’s this offseason after Russell Wilson requested additional talent across the line. The former Raider was brought in for stability and steadiness, and he has largely delivered.

Against the Jaguars he was better than stable and steady. He made it impossible to ignore him. Pro Football Focus credited him with:

  • Zero sacks allowed
  • Zero QB hits allowed
  • Zero pressures allowed

That’s what we call a perfect game. Again, we’re talking about the Jaguars and their anemic pass rush, with all of eight sacks coming in, so attach all the caveats you want, but aren’t you supposed to dominate inferior competition, if you’re good? Isn’t that the logical outcome?

Jackson’s been on fire for more than four quarters, by the way.

And watch Jackson run block on the opening drive. I made a whole thread of it.

Later, he uses his hands like a hyperactive magician. Textbook stuff.

Jackson seems to have settled into his role, just as Wilson prepares to return to the fold. If the Seahawks are going to make an improbable second-half run, it’ll begin with continued excellent play from their quarterback, which is made easier when his line keeps him upright. There’s not much of a path to outscoring the Packers, Cardinals or Rams when you’re out of rhythm and running for your life.

If Jackson remains his own regular self, Duane Brown hangs on for another dozen games, and Ethan Pocic is an upgrade at center — yes that’s a lot of ifs — then the Seahawks offense can cruise.

Without Geno Smith scoring three times every week, either.